Monday, May 30, 2011

Etiquette Lunch – A Success!

by Kelley Lindberg

Last week I wrote about preparing for my son’s “etiquette lunch” with his sixth grade class at a local restaurant. I mentioned that I and another mom visited the restaurant, discussed safe menu items they could serve our two food-allergic boys, arranged for allergy-aware friends to sit with the boys, and had the support of both the teachers and the restaurant manager.

So, how did it go?

“Epic,” says my son. “The food was amazing – it was tasty and they catered to our needs. It was good to sit with my friends because they know about my food allergies and could help me.”

When I asked him if he felt different or isolated, he said “No.” All the kids sat in groups at various tables, so his was just another table of silly kids laughing and having a good time. He said no one made a big deal of his allergies or anything else.

I know that accidents can happen, and that the best intentions and plans can still go awry because of unforeseen contaminations. But teaching my son how to be prepared and careful will go a long ways towards reducing the number of accidents he’ll encounter.

That’s especially true as he is about to enter his teenage years (he’s 12 now). Statistically, the most dangerous time for food-allergic people is during their teen years – they are feeling more rebellious, more image-conscious (they don’t want to carry those bulky EpiPens), more peer pressure (“Come on, try it!”), and more embarrassed about everything that makes them seem different. And then there’s that whole dating and kissing thing – can you picture the enormous self-esteem it will take for a teen boy to ask a girl if she’s eaten peanuts, milk, or eggs before he kisses her? And the self-control to keep from kissing her if she has? Hoo boy. These are not years I’m looking forward to.

So all I can do is hope that I’m modeling the careful behaviors I want him to use when he spends more time on his own and away from his protective mom. This etiquette lunch was a good example of how a little prep work can keep him from missing out on a fun experience, or worse, keep him from interrupting a fun experience with a trip to the ER.

While other sixth graders were learning how to keep a napkin in their laps and which fork to use with a salad, my son was also learning how to keep from suffering a life-threatening emergency at a restaurant. Just a little extra sixth-grade lesson.

I can’t wait to see what new challenges junior high brings.

1 comment:

The Scherbel Family said...

I'm glad it went so well!